Also found in: Dictionary, Thesaurus, Wikipedia.
1. A phrase commonly (and thus sometimes humorously) used as a password, especially to gain entrance to something. In The Arabian Nights, "open sesame" is a magical phrase used to open a robbers' den. A: "What's the password?" B: "Um… open sesame?" If those kids are still blocking the door, tell them the password is "open sesame."
2. By extension, something that helps one to achieve a goal or access an opportunity. In this usage, the phrase is preceded by an article (for instance, "an open sesame"). Good grades in high school will be an open sesame to any college you choose.
open sesamea marvellous or irresistible means of achieving access to what would normally be inaccessible.
In the tale of Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves in the Arabian Nights, the door of the robbers' cave was made to open by uttering this magic formula.
open ˈsesame(humorous) an easy way to gain or achieve something that is usually very difficult to get: Academic success is not always an open sesame to a well-paid job. ♢ The bank had just closed but I banged on the door and — open sesame — they let me in!This expression comes from the story Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves. The words open sesame opened the door of the thieves’ cave where they kept their treasure.
An effective means for achieving a desired goal. The term comes from the story about Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves (The Arabian Nights Entertainments, ca. 1375), in which Ali Baba uses the words “Open, Sesame” to open the door of the robbers’ den. By 1800 or so the words had become synonymous with any password. For example, Sir Walter Scott wrote in a letter to Lord Dalkeith (Feb. 11, 1806), “Your notoriety becomes a talisman—an ‘Open Sesame’ before which everything gives way.”